May 24, 2017 04:59 UTC
Lockheed Martin has won a $137.8 million contract modification
for cost-reduction programs for the initial low-rate production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
. Fiscal 2016 aircraft procurement funds from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps of $137.8 million will be allocated to the program, none of which will expire at the end of the fiscal year. Eighty percent of the modification will go to the Air Force, with the rest split between the Navy and Marine Corps. Scheduled to be completed by December 2020, work will take place at Waco, Texas, El Segundo, Calif. and Warton, England, with other work being completed across the United States.
F-35B: off probation
The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that will have 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE) Lightning jet. Lightning II system development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3), with Singapore and Israel as “Security Cooperation Partners,” and Japan as the 1st export customer.
The big question for Lockheed Martin is whether, and when, many of these partner countries will begin placing purchase orders. This updated article has expanded to feature more detail regarding the F-35 program, including contracts, sub-contracts, and notable events and reports during 2012-2013.
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May 12, 2017 04:59 UTC
The US Navy has awarded Rolls Royce a $78.7 million contract
to provide logistical and engineering support for originally manufactured engines on the KC-130J
tanker aircraft. Under the contract, aircraft in use by the US Marine Corp as well as the government of Kuwait will be affected. The work will primarily be completed in Indianapolis, with smaller contracts spread through other states, as well as Japan and Kuwait. The project is expected to be completed by May 2022.
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
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May 08, 2017 04:55 UTC
USAF F-22 Raptors have completed a series of operational tests
as part of massive upgrades to the fighters. During the tests, the aircraft fired inert AIM-9 and AIM-120 missiles against multiple BQM-167A sub-scale aerial targets, a "significant effort" along the 3.2B initial operational test and evaluation upgrade timeline, the Air Force said, adding that the added capability enhances the service's air superiority but did not offer specifics. The F-22s are due for a weapons systems upgrade in Summer 2019, which will include enhanced target location capabilities and new antennas for the aircraft's stealth abilities, among other developments.
Into that good night
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.
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May 01, 2017 00:34 UTC
Raytheon's Standard Missile-6 (SM-6
) is expected to be declared fully operational in the near future, after the missile was successfully put through
a series of rigorous Navy testing. Four missiles were fired from surface ships using the MK 41
Vertical Launch System—deployed on Ticonderoga-class
cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class
destroyers—at a variety of land-launched targets, including supersonic and subsonic missiles, with all four test fires successfully intercepting their targets. Furthermore, the missile has been approved for international sales to select countries as of January this year.
SM-2 Launch, DDG-77
(click to view larger)
Variants of the SM-2 Standard missile are the USA’s primary fleet defense anti-air weapon, and serve with 13 navies worldwide. The most common variant is the RIM-66K-L/ SM-2 Standard Block IIIB, which entered service in 1998. The Standard family extends far beyond the SM-2 missile, however; several nations still use the SM-1, the SM-3 is rising to international prominence as a missile defense weapon, and the SM-6 program is on track to supplement the SM-2. These missiles are designed to be paired with the AEGIS radar and combat system, but can be employed independently by ships with older or newer radar systems.
This article covers each variant in the Standard missile family, plus several years worth of American and Foreign Military Sales requests and contracts and key events; and offers the budgetary, technical, and geopolitical background that can help put all that in context.
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May 01, 2017 00:33 UTC
New Zealand has been cleared
by the US State Department for the $1.46 billion purchase of four Boeing P-8A
maritime patrol aircraft alongside associated equipment and support. The sale will go toward the maintenance of Wellington's Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) capability, following the retirement of the P-3K maritime patrol aircraft. Japan had also tried to sell the Kawasaki P-1 to New Zealand, a rival platform being marketed agains Boeing's P-8A.
Maritime surveillance and patrol is becoming more and more important, but the USA’s P-3 Orion turboprop fleet is falling apart. The P-7 Long Range Air ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) Capable Aircraft program to create an improved P-3 began in 1988, but cost overruns, slow progress, and interest in opening the competition to commercial designs led to the P-7’s cancellation for default in 1990. The successor MMA program was begun in March 2000, and Boeing beat Lockheed’s “Orion 21” with a P-8 design based on their ubiquitous 737 passenger jet. US Navy squadrons finally began taking P-8A Poseidon deliveries in 2012, but the long delays haven’t done their existing P-3 fleet any favors.
Filling the P-3 Orion’s shoes is no easy task. What missions will the new P-8A Poseidon face? What do we know about the platform, the project team, and ongoing developments? Will the P-3’s wide global adoption give its successor a comparable level of export opportunities? Australia and India have already signed on, but has the larger market shifted in the interim?
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Apr 21, 2017 00:50 UTC
Lockheed Martin has successfully completed several flight tests
with an updated version of the company's Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM
). Testing involved equipping the munitions with modernized GPS anti-jam hardware and software, and launched from B-2 and B-52 bomber aircraft at altitudes over 24,000 feet. Lockheed stated that the successful tests verified the weapon's capabilities in GPS-degraded and non-jammed environments. JASSMs have been equipped on a variety of US fighters and bombers, including the B-52, F-16, F-15E and B-1B.
JASSM-ER from B-1B
The 2,000 pound AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) is intended to be a stealthy, inexpensive GPS/IIR (Global Positioning system/ Imaging InfraRed) guided cruise missile. It’s designed to attack well-defended targets without putting its carrier aircraft in the crosshairs of new long-range surface to air missile systems. JASSM has experienced a rocky development history, due to long-standing reliability issues. In 2005 it was threatened with cancellation following a series of poor test results. The program went through 2007 on an ongoing roller coaster of ups and downs, and by May 2009 it appeared the program was facing cancellation once again.
A production hiatus did take place between Lot 7 and FY 2010’s Lot 8 in FY 2010, but test results allowed the USAF to move forward, and the missile is beginning to win export orders.
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Apr 21, 2017 00:48 UTC
The Taiwanese Navy has issued a request for tender
to produce the island's first indigenous landing platform dock. Funding worth $207 million has been allocated for the project up to 2021, and calls for a length of 502 feet and a weight of 10,000 tons. The tender also requires that the vessel be fitted with a 76mm gun and Phalanx
close-in weapon system, as well as the indigenous TC-2N
missile system for air defense, a top speed of 21 knots, and a range of up to 7,000 miles. It's expected that Taipei will build two such vessels by 2021 and use them to support amphibious operations and transport tasks, and act as hospital ships and vessels for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in peacetime.
The radar-guided, rapid-firing MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS, pron. “see-whiz”) can fire between 3,000-4,500 20mm cannon rounds per minute, either autonomously or under manual command, as a last-ditch defense against incoming missiles and other targets. Phalanx uses closed-loop spotting with advanced radar and computer technology to locate, identify and direct a stream of armor piercing projectiles toward the target. These capabilities have made the Phalanx CIWS a critical bolt-on sub-system for naval vessels around the world, and led to the C-RAM/Centurion, a land-based system designed to defend against incoming artillery and mortars.
This DID Spotlight article offers updated, in-depth coverage that describes ongoing deployment and research projects within the Phalanx family of weapons, the new land-based system’s new technologies and roles, and international contracts from FY 2005 onward. As of Feb 28/07, more than 895 Phalanx systems had been built and deployed in the navies of 22 nations.
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Apr 13, 2017 00:57 UTC
Future US Navy frigates may come with added air defense capabilities
as a new study group is being commissioned to examine adding such a platform to the requirements. At present, service specifications call for a vessel to have enough surface-to-air missiles to protect itself. The new idea is to double the RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM
) load from 8 to 16 or having a Mark 41 Vertical Launching System
loaded with eight Standard Missile-2 (SM-2
). Upgunning the frigates will change the Navy designation for the ships from FF, meaning frigate, to FFG — guided missile frigates able to provide area air defense.
The RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is used to protect ships from attacking missiles and aircraft, and is designed to counter supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles. Compared to the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow, ESSM is effectively a new missile with a larger, more powerful rocket motor for increased range, a different aerodynamic layout for improved agility, and the latest missile guidance technology. Testing has even shown the ESSM to be effective against fast surface craft, an option that greatly expands the missile’s utility. As a further bonus, the RIM-162 ESSM has the ability to be “quad-packed” in the Mk 41 vertical launching system, allowing 4 missiles to be carried per launch cell instead of loading one larger SM-2 Standard missile or similar equipment.
This is DID’s FOCUS article for the program, containing details about the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile family, and contracts placed under this program since 1999. The Sea Sparrow was widely used aboard NATO warships, so it isn’t surprising that the ESSM is an international program. The NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the USA – as well as non-NATO Australia. Foreign Military Sales ESSM customers outside this consortium include Japan, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
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Apr 05, 2017 00:27 UTC
The US subsidiary of Israel's Elbit Systems received their first production order
for the Helmet Display and Tracker System (HDTS
) with the Continuously Computed Impact Point (CCIP) algorithm for the US Navy's fleet of MH-60S
helicopters. Valued at $50 million, work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas and completed by June 2021. The advanced technology
of the helmet and processor provides pilots and crews with line-of-sight tracking to improve interaction with the flight navigation system, enhance pilot and co-pilot situational awareness, and increase the accuracy of weapons delivery.
USN Heli Plan
The US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawks have always had a naval counterpart. SH-60B/F Seahawk/ LAMPS helicopters were outfitted with maritime radar, sonobuoys, and other specialized equipment that let them perform a wide variety of roles, from supply and transport, to anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and even surface attack with torpedoes or Kongsberg’s AGM-119 Penguin missiles. Like their land-based counterparts, however, the Seahawks are getting older. The Reagan defense build-up is receding into history, and its products are wearing out.
European countries chose to build new designs like the medium-heavy EH101 and the NH90 medium helicopter. They’re larger than the H-60s, make heavy use of corrosion-proof composites, and add new features like rear ramps. The USA, in contrast, decided to upgrade existing H-60 designs for the Army and Navy. Hence the MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (aka. “Romeo”) and MH-60S (aka. “Sierra”) Seahawks. MH-60Rs and MH-60Ss will eventually replace all SH-60B/F & HH-60H Seahawks, HH-1N Hueys, UH-3H Sea Kings, and CH-46D Sea Knight helicopters currently in the US Navy’s inventory. Both programs are underway, and will be covered in this DID FOCUS Article.
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Mar 20, 2017 00:54 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
The British government has been cleared
by the US State department to move forward with the purchase of AGM-114R1/R2 Hellfire II Semi-Active Laser (SAL) missiles. Estimated to value around $150 million, the foreign military sales contract will involve the transfer of 1,000 rounds from existing US military stocks, as well as the provision of logistics support services and other related program support. London previously ordered 500 AGM-114s back in 2015.
USN MH-60S test
Hellfire I/II missiles are the USA’s preferred aerial anti-armor missile, and are widely deployed with America’s allies. They equip America’s helicopter fleets (AH-64, AH-1, OH-58D, MH-60S/R), AH-64 and S-70 helicopters flown by its allies, and even Australia and France’s Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Range is officially listed as 9 km/ 5.6 miles.
While Hellfires lack the fast-jet launch capabilities – and correspondingly extended maximum range – of the UK’s MBDA Brimstone missiles, Lockheed Martin’s missile has made big inroads as the world’s high-end helicopter-launched missile. It has also carved out unique niches as tripod-launched coastal defense assets, as the guided missile integrated into American UAVs like the MQ-1 Predator family, and even as a missile option for transport aircraft like the AC-208B Combat Caravan and C-130J/W Hercules.
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